My Time at Portia review: patience pays off

At first glance My Time at Portia seems incredibly derivative, not just of other rural life sims like Harvest Moon, Stardew Valley and Rune Factory, but of Minecraft, Zelda and Final Fantasy too, among others. But give it some time and you’ll realise that the various influences on this slow-paced building game are actually pooled into something pretty special.

Portia takes place hundreds of years in the future, after humanity has advanced, destroyed itself, lived in dwindling numbers underground and finally emerged to rebuild. You arrive to take over your dad’s old workshed on the outskirts of town, and immediately set out to become a renowned builder.

My Time at Portia starts simple, but it quickly becomes a very convoluted game.

My Time at Portia starts simple, but it quickly becomes a very convoluted game.

While you’re free to wander and take in the sights of the huge cartoony world as you like, your priority is receiving commissions from the villagers and working out how to craft them, mostly thanks to an incredibly detailed instruction book left by your old man. But while that might sound easy, building a single item usually involves spelunking in mines and scowering the countryside for materials, processing them several times in various ways to create parts and then slapping them all together.

For example one of the earliest missions requires building a bridge, the head of which needs copper pipe (mine copper, turn it into bars using a furnace, then into pipes using a grinder) and hardwood planks. The planks require chopping down large trees (which needs a bronze axe; so more copper, plus tin) and processing them on a cutting machine. Keep in mind the machines (which you also have to build) require constant fuel and take time to craft each item.

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